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Eastern Cape in the dark regarding true extent of Coronavirus: DA

Mar 31, 2020
Eastern Cape in the dark regarding true extent of Coronavirus: DA

Port Elizabeth - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape on Monday said that it is impossible to say to what extent the Coronavirus has truly spread through the Eastern Cape if the latest statistics made available by Premier Oscar Mabuyane are anything to go on.

"The Premier revealed that, as of Saturday, of the over 35,000 national Coronavirus tests that have been processed, only 77 of those have been for people from the Eastern Cape, 12 of which have been positive," said Jane Cowley (MPL), DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Health.

"This flies in the face of the National Health Department’s own mantra of testing, testing and more testing. The accurate identification of patients with the Coronavirus is essential if this disease is to be prevented from spreading.

"If the test results are taking so long to access, many people under investigation (PUI’s) may not feel the urgent need to self- isolate until such time as the results are made known, which could be catastrophic in terms of viral spread."

Cowley said that in a province with an estimated population of 7,3 million people, the majority of whom live in close proximity in informal settlements, with limited access to basic services and healthcare, it is vital that the province get ahead of the disease.

"However, the latest information seems to indicate that, once again, the province is at the back of the queue, which could have dire consequences.

"What adds to this concern, is that of the 77 tests done, 12 have tested positive, which is a much higher average compared to the national reported figures," she described.

"Alarmingly, as provincial cases are being identified, they are spread across the province, with new cases of local transmission, indicating the disease is already in our communities and that there is no one common centralised hotspot for the virus."

She aded that the minister of Health, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, has acknowledged that there is a significant backlog especially from some private laboratories due to pressure caused by the increasing workload, and the DA welcomes the announcement of an additional testing laboratory in Port Elizabeth.

"The news of additional mobile testing stations is also welcomed.

"I will be writing to the Premier to request his urgent intervention, to ensure that the backlog of outstanding provincial tests be prioritised and to see what the provincial government can do to help expedite bringing the PE testing facility online," Cowley said.

"We also call on all Eastern Cape residents to remain vigilant, heed the current lockdown regulations and stay home wherever possible."

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